Ball on the chopping block?

With the lockout all but over, takes a look at who could be on the chopping block as training camp looms directly on the horizon.

The list of questions facing the Dallas Cowboys (and every NFL team) is so long nobody really is sure how many questions are on it. Many will be discovered on an "as they arise" basis.

That said, however, one of the questions the team faces is which salaries to dump in an effort to get back under the salary cap, which is projected to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 million … which is substantially less (by nearly $20 million) than the amount of money the Cowboys have committed already to 2011 salaries.

That doesn't even include free agents — veterans or rookies — and draft picks who still need to be signed.

Technically, just about any player could be traded or cut, but there are some — DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Tony Romo, etc. — who would have to bring such a haul in return that such a move would make the 1989 trade of Herschel Walker to Minnesota seem like an even swap.

So which players are coming to camp needing the greatest performance to show they still deserve a roster spot?

Defensive back Alan Ball filled a need last year at free safety, but despite the absence of a proven alternative, he is being moved back to cornerback, where the Cowboys have several solid performers in Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick and Bryan McCann — hardly a vote of confidence from management.

The only way Newman leaves likely is if the Cowboys go for broke and sign ex-Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in a move that will signal the ultimate win-now-or-else strategy.

Meanwhile Jenkins tailed off a little last year, but is still young and just a year away from a Pro Bowl appearance … not to mention the five-year contract worth nearly $10 million that he signed as a first-round pick in 2008.

Injuries, of course, can alter the depth chart at all positions, but unless someone goes down with a significant injury, it's likely Ball will have to beat out Scandrick, who at times last season was the team's best cornerback or McCann, the 2010 rookie from SMU who showed game-breaking ability on both defense and special teams in his debut season.

Then again, the Cowboys began last season with just three cornerbacks on their roster, a decision that led to McCann's brief exile to the Baltimore Ravens.

It appears highly unlikely that they'll take that approach again, but if they do, Ball might have to beat out both Scandrick and McCann.

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